The coronavirus lockdown has forced international cricket into a hiatus giving the game’s top stars some much needed time off.
Much is expected of South Africa’s top players, especially those who are regulars across all three formats.
The carefully managed workloads of the top stars rarely allow for the cream of Proteas talent to turn out for their franchises.
If Cricket South Africa really wants to inject fresh life into domestic cricket, particularly the four-day series, they could build a schedule that would allow Test stars to play a significant amount of franchise matches.
If the franchise system is scrapped and the eleven-team structure returns, it will make the use of the top Proteas performers vital to ensure the quality of cricket is maintained.
Centrally contracted players who will go unused at their franchise could also be loaned out to a team that will make full use of their experience and skills.
The flipside to this coin is whether or not it makes business sense to deploy precious resources in a high risk, low reward situation. The Proteas management would likely prefer if their top stars joined their franchises for training and played when they need to build up match fitness or get time in the middle.
Quinton de Kock and Kagiso Rabada are perhaps the Proteas most valuable assets given their ages, achievements to date and long-term prospects. Still, they are unlikely to be seen in the CSA 4-Day Franchise Series anytime soon.
De Kock has had a string of hand injuries as a result of keeping wicket to a fearsome pace attack. Rabada’s enormous workload is already a concern for the Proteas.
An extended break might just prolong the careers of the Proteas’ stars, but it may also present an excellent opportunity for the superstars to make some franchise appearances. The domestic game is likely to return before international cricket can, which will make it the ideal setting to get the Proteas back up to speed, after lockdown.